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Phones

Phone networks losing out as we use mobiles more and pay less

As a nation, we're apparently addicted to our blowers, yet phone networks aren't cashing in, as contracts are getting cheaper and we're using more data.

As a nation, we're apparently addicted to our blowers, yet phone networks aren't the ones cashing in, as contracts get cheaper and we use more data.

Ofcom's annual report on mobile-phone use reveals that nine out of ten people in Britain own a mobile phone, and nearly a third own a smart phone. Not only are mobile phones ubiquitous, but one in seven households has ditched landlines entirely in favour of mobiles. 

We're using our phones more and more too, spending 125 billion minutes talking on our mobiles and sending 129 billion text messages in 2010. The amount of mobile data used has also increased forty-fold since 2007. Yet network revenues fell two per cent in 2010, and have been falling over the past couple of years, as contracts get cheaper.

Twenty-seven per cent of adults own a smart phone, as do 47 per cent of teenagers. The iPhone is the most common smart phone for adults, while teenagers prefer the BlackBerry, largely thanks to the BlackBerry Messenger instant-messaging software.

But all those smart-phone users haven't yet got the most out of their mobiles, because half have never downloaded an app. Among those that have embraced the Apple App Store, Android Market or BlackBerry App World, games are the most popular type of app.

Revenues are down over the last couple of years, so it's no wonder operators are trying to push customers towards long contracts -- contract customers spend much more than pay as you goers. And it's no wonder they want to push us onto Wi-Fi for our Web browsing, to ease the increasing burden on the 3G networks.

Networks are set to begin investing heavily in 4G spectrum and infrastructure over the next year, which will also squeeze profits, all the while making it easier for us to use services like Google and Facebook.

The most popular services while browsing on our phones are Google and Facebook -- 9.5 million people used Google from their mobile phone in 2010, and 7.5 million visited Facebook on the go. 

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